Make your home page

School counselor’s job hangs in the balance over gender support policy comments

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — High school counselor Kathy McCord was placed on indefinite leave for speaking out against the gender support policy at South Madison Community Schools.

The policy instructs teachers and staff to not tell parents a child has chosen a different pronoun or name. 

Chris Paulsen of Indiana Youth Group said, “I think if a parent is told it should be the student that tells them, we know that 1 in 4 youth are kicked out when they come out in Indiana.” 

The gender support plan adopted by the South Madison Community School Board takes a similar approach. The school board does not want teachers and staff telling parents when children adopts new genders or names.

According to Paulsen, gender support plans are common in Indiana “because schools, that is their mission to support kids and make them feel welcome and set up the best learning environment they can.”

The South Madison Community School Board has not published its gender support plan on the district’s website. The school’s nondiscrimination policy makes no mention of a gender support plan, nor are there instructions for parents and or students if they have questions about the policy.

Emails and phone calls to the district office by I-Team 8 were not returned by the time this story aired Thursday.  

McCord’s name and email are listed on the Pendleton heights high school staff directory page. Her picture is not available on the website.  

I-Team 8 was told by one of Kathy McCord’s family members that she will not offer any comments about her leave of absence or the gender support plan until after the school board met Thursday night.  

There are plenty of “Keep Kathy” yard signs sprinkled through Pendleton. The owner of these signs told I-Team 8 that McCord has been a wonderful counselor for his kids and he believes the school should contact parents when a student chooses a new name or gender. He declined I-Team 8’s request for an interview but did say he had to replace the yard signs once after someone stole the first set. He says police are investigating.